I recently received a post from a group on LinkedIn that asked if I thought that print was on its way back. I expect that this was delivered in regard to the way that newspaper circulations have fallen away heavily over the last five years and the consensus is that ‘print is dead!’
I do take a different view. I have worked in advertising for many years, certainly from before the Internet age came about. In fact, I remember having e-mail installed by my Internet developer and then having nobody to email! I also recall, back in the mid-1990s, making presentations to agency clients about the new phenonenom of ‘the Internet’ and showing them, via a very slow dial-up connection, how it all worked. In those days there was no Google and you went online via browsers such as Yahoo and AltaVista. I recall one particular client being impressed by the potential of email and saying something along the lines of, “It’s great, but I don’t think we’ll ever use it!”
Now look. I have three-year old Gransons who tell me to “just Google it” all the time and swipe away on games on my iPad without even being able to read!
Which brings me neatly back to print. My view, based on two or three recent examples, indicates to me that, far from being dead, print is on the up.
Last year, trade press publisher DFA Media produced its annual Drives and Controls Buyers Guide issue in July 2014 and this was it biggest issue in almost 30 years. This year, the same Buyers Guide issue was even bigger, at 308 pages. The perfect-bound spine is 12mm wide!
In the thick of the recession, the then paid-for Evening Standard in London, was recreated as a free newspaper and doubled its circulation overnight. Its circulation today is verified at 855,953 copies daily.
If you walk into WH Smith, or any other major newsagent, the number of magazines on the shelves is testimony to how many people still buy them. Yes, the publishers have had to adapt to meet the needs of those who prefer an online read – and this has enabled them to develop new online products – but in my view, you can’t beat the feel of a well-produced, glossy magazine, printed on good quality paper!
Before you mark me down as an old dinosaur, I read plenty of stuff online, via my laptop, phone or tablet. Our industry magazine, ‘Campaign’, is published online on a Thursday, but I must admit, while I might have a quick look online, I tend to wait for the print version dropping onto my doormat on a Friday. You can hold it, read it and make notes on it.
Finally, the music paper, NME, has just changed its circulation to free distribution. My feeling is that it will now go the way of the Evening Standard, by increasing its circulation substantially, finding new readership and getting set for a new period of success. For those that are interested in these things, I still have a couple of years’ worth or NMEs at home dating back to 1973!
To return to my original muse, is print dead? – the answer is a resounding “No”.